The Circle of Life

Rose comes to terms with her placement in a personal care home and reflects on the irony of life in old age.

That's some bland soup, you got there, I want to tell the nurse.

Instead, I wait for her to wipe the dribble creeping down my chin. Don't they have any salt in this place?

She holds out another spoonful, and I open my mouth obligingly. I can feed myself, I want to say. But I'm not sure I can. It's been a while since I tried. I remember when I used to feed my own children like this. Using a special little spoon, starting with mushy foods and gradually adding solids as they started using their new teeth. Oooopen wide for the train, Johnny. He would coo, and I would wipe the baby food that slid down his chin and got all over his hands. Life is funny that way. Nowadays, I've lost all my teeth, and they feed me progressively mushy foods.

"Would you like some juice, Rosie?"

Not really, but she holds a cup to my lips anyway. I'd like some coffee, but it's too much work to try to communicate that. It's exhausting, trying to speak clearly, and watching them try to understand. Most often they nod with a blank look on their face. Like when I used to tell my husband to help me with the housework. He would nod and tell me he was listening, but he was really thinking about work, or planning to read the paper. I would get so mad at him, throwing things, and threatening to leave. I should have been more patient. I wish I could tell him that now. I'm sorry, Richard. I love you. I'll see you soon, I hope.

"Wake up, Rosie."

Huh? Oh, I've fallen asleep at the table again? Maybe if you added more flavour to the food I'd be able to stay awake. When I cooked at home, I always added a good spoonful of salt and pepper to everything. I know it's not good for your heart, but that's the way Richard liked it. Maybe that's what gave him that heart attack 8 years ago, but I think if he'd had the choice, he still would have chosen salt in his food. 'Quality over quantity,' he would say, I imagine.

"I have some pills for you, Rosie."

That's quite the handful! How many pills do I need? Am I that sick? I don't feel too bad. Well, my knees hurt, and my back hurts, and there's a burning pain in my stomach too, but compared to that guy over there with his mouth hanging open, I think I'm doing well. I remember when I was in labour with my third child, John. I could've used some pills then. That boy weighed ten pounds and seven ounces! And by the time he was five, he was the same size as his older sister Freida. For fifteen years they were at each other's throats. Oh, I'm sorry, what were you saying?  

"How are you doing, Rosie? Are you ready for your bath?"

The End

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